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Study + Work: How to Successfully Do Both

By Hemant Chauhan, Legal Coordinator, BARBRI International

If you are looking to internationalise your legal career as a foreign-trained lawyer or law graduate by pursuing qualification as a U.S. attorney, you’ve made a wise decision. Know that preparing to sit a U.S. state bar exam doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Although you may grapple with how best to study while working and fulfilling other commitments, options exist that provide both study flexibility plus the opportunity to still have a life. Who would have thought!

As someone who is preparing to sit the N.Y. State Bar Exam, I can tell you there is no single path that makes sense for every professional trying to juggle work and study. I can also tell you that the BARBRI International Bar Preparation programmes are designed to fit your needs for balance, whatever they may be. The programmes are geared for non-U.S. nationals and focus on the frequently examined topics that international students find most difficult.

Unless you have studied many of the subjects tested on the exam, or English is your first language, it will likely be rather difficult to make a realistic determination of how and how long to prepare. I offer up the following information and account of my own international journey to help guide you in yours.

Choose Bar Prep for the Real World

Because we are all at a little different stage in our careers and have different commitments, BARBRI International offers 6-month and 10-month international bar review programmes. The 6-month programme estimates 25-30 hours will be dedicated to learning per week, and may be best suited to those who can study on a full-time basis and/or who prefer to get qualified more quickly.

The 10-month extended programme estimates 10-15 hours will be dedicated to learning each week. Although both programmes offer the same comprehensive curriculum, the 10-month programme is offered at a slower pace. It’s for this reason that I have chosen the 10-month programme for my bar prep.

Commit Accordingly

As you work to determine the course of your studies, you may want to ask yourself some questions:

  • How much time will I have (realistically) to devote to my studies each week? How much flexibility will I need during the course?
  • Will taking an intensive, timed multiple-choice and essay exam all in English be challenging for me?
  • How much support will I likely need during the course?
  • Will I study for a U.S. state exam in California or Texas, or one that utilises the Uniform Bar Exam (such as New York)?

If you find yourself thinking you will need a good amount of time, flexibility, and support during your studies, then the BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme done over the course of 6- or 10-months may be right for you. Careful planning, discipline, and time management will all be important factors when fitting in study around employment. By adopting a methodical approach to studying and committing from the outset, you will become more efficient at juggling your many commitments and put yourself in the best position to pass the bar exam.

Use Your Resources Wisely

I’ll be the first to admit that workplace deadlines and distractions, the general demands of a full day on the job, and the commute home have taken a toll on my study plans at times. The 10-month programme with BARBRI allows me more time to engage with the materials and offers a flexible, intuitive Personal Study Plan (PSP) so I can study anywhere at any time and focus my time where it is most needed. The fact that 76% of international students who complete 80% of the PSP have passed the bar exam is encouraging to me—and I hope it is to you, too. During my morning and evening commutes, I also listen to lectures in substantive law delivered by top U.S. law professors on the BARBRI App, and review the available handouts and outlines. I then study the multiple-choice practice questions on the weekends.

BARBRI offers unique LawMaster Study Keys, which have been particularly helpful for my MBE prep in connecting the law to the facts, analysing complex fact patterns, working on issue-spotting, and recalling the rules. The simulation exams will ultimately allow me to do a complete timed exam and submit it to BARBRI for grading. The simulation will show me where I am on the bar exam curve with enough time to modify my studies before the actual exam.

Let’s just say I fully utilise the resources at my disposal with BARBRI, including access to a 1:1 personal coach whenever needed. These U.S.-qualified mentors are very supportive and have years of teaching expertise and knowledge in exam eligibility. They know what it takes to pass the bar exam, and they have helped me when I’ve struggled on subjects and study techniques. All of this combined is an approach that is allowing me to fulfil the 10-15 weekly hours of learning, and feel confident in my quest to pass the U.S. state bar exam.

Best of luck to you as you commit to a programme and prepare to become an amazing international attorney.

CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM ELIGIBILITY: YOUR FIRST STEPS, WHAT TO EXPECT

By Chris Jorgenson,
BARBRI International Legal Manager

Hello, my name is Chris Jorgenson, Legal Manager with BARBRI based in London, England.

In this blog post, I’ll be addressing the eligibility requirements for the California Bar Exam and the practice trends we’ve seen in California over the years, which will be quite helpful and valuable to you.

First, let me establish what makes BARBRI the world’s #1 bar review provider. For the past 50 years, BARBRI has been the industry leader in U.S. bar exam preparation and passing success, having helped more than 1.3 million law school students become licensed attorneys in the United States. The BARBRI International Bar Preparation programme prepares law graduates and lawyers from non-U.S. based jurisdictions to gain membership in the State Bar of California and New York State Bar Association.

BE IN GOOD STANDING, PROVIDE PRACTICE CERTIFICATE

Generally, any qualified lawyer in good standing anywhere in the world is eligible to sit the California Bar Exam. So long as the attorney can produce a certificate of good standing and a home jurisdiction practice certificate, the California Bar Exam is available. In addition, an international law student may become eligible for the California bar by completing a one-year LL.M. at a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or accredited by the state of California. In practice, this means completing an LL.M. in the United States.

ONLY THE STATE BAR CAN CONFIRM ELIGIBILITY

It is important to note that the only arbiter of California Bar Exam eligibility is the State Bar of California. Serving as an arm of the California Supreme Court, only this governing branch of the state can confirm eligibility to sit the California Bar Exam. Confirming eligibility can take between 4-to-6 months, so it is important that as a prospective bar exam candidate, you begin the process early.

EXAM DETAILS: DATES, FORMAT, SUBJECTS, SCORING

The two-day California Bar Exam is offered twice a year during the last week of February and last week of July. It’s administered only in California, requiring an international candidate to travel to the United States to sit the exam.

There are seven core Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) subjects tested: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property and Torts. In addition, the California Bar Exam essay subjects cover: California Civil Procedure, Business Associations, California Community Property, California Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts and California Wills and Succession.

Day one of the bar exam consists of a morning session: three essay questions testing any subject and an afternoon session: two 60-minute essay questions and one 90-minute Performance Test. Day two of the exam: 200 multiple-choice questions testing the seven core MBE subjects.

The State Bar of California weighs the MBE portion (50%) and written essay portion (50%) of the bar exam equally. A passing score of 1,440 on a 2,000-point scale is required.

A California applicant is also required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), a 60-question multiple-choice professional ethics test that is offered three times each year (usually in March, August and November). An applicant must take the MPRE inside the United States, but may do so in any U.S. state.

While sitting the California Bar Exam and qualifying as a U.S. attorney in California is an ambitious task, the BARBRI International Bar Preparation curriculum and educational platform put you in the best position to succeed, where ever in the world you reside. Learn more now.

Be sure to look for my next blog with details about the New York Bar Exam.

MAKING THE MOST OF BARBRI

Guest Blog by Tiffany Khoo, LLB,
London School of Economics and Political Science graduate

When I first signed on for the BARBRI 10-month Home Study Program, 10 months felt far away yet it went so much faster than I expected.

Almost silently, the last few months passed one after another and the New York Bar Exam had suddenly arrived. It’s truly been a wonderful journey, learning law from a different jurisdiction, especially one as influential as the United States.

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Throughout the 10 months of bar study, I found myself getting involved in situations where my (limited) knowledge of U.S. law helped me out. For example, in work, I’ve had to look at Secured Transactions, one of the subjects tested on the New York Bar Exam. I was assigned to conduct research on Article 9, which thanks to my bar preparations through BARBRI, I already had some knowledge about. In my personal life, I had a relative going through some legal issues while residing in the United States. When she hired a U.S. attorney, it was so reassuring to know that I recognized the legalese he was using and I could really offer some helpful advice to a family member.

As this is my final BARBRI blog post, I leave you with some tips on making the most of BARBRI:

Use the BARBRI Network

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again: BARBRI sets up a WhatsApp group chat for those interested to communicate with other BARBRI students. This network has been a wonderful support system as you’re joined by others from around the world that are going through the same struggles. People share tips, encourage each other, remind each other about important deadlines and, of course, share a relatable meme every so often. It is a great resource and a wonderful way to feel less alone in the bar prep journey.

Email the lecturers

Although you have the vast BARBRI Network of students to lean on, sometimes that just means there’s many confused students all at a time. A lot of the BARBRI lecturers give out their number and email addresses for those who have questions. I’ve emailed the lecturers before and they have been exceptionally helpful and kind.

Practice and start early

BARBRI comes with an abundance of practice questions and it would be a huge shame to not take advantage of them. My advice: as much as possible, start practicing and start practicing early.

Build up endurance

A big part of the New York Bar Exam requires endurance – 12 hours of testing over two days. I remember when I first started attempting the 18 Multistate Practice Questions (MPQs) that BARBRI provided. It would take me well over an hour to complete, which was definitely much too long. But over time, I could do it more quickly. Build up your endurance and speed slowly – it will get better over time.

With that, all the best! I’ve had a blast writing here and I wish everyone the best of luck!

IN PURSUIT OF A DREAM – FROM HERZLIYA TO PASSING THE NEW YORK BAR

Israeli attorney Elena Goor Barron prepares to embark on a legal position in the U.S. and help people all over the world after securing a job as a Litigator at a New York law firm. Find out how she passed the New York Bar Exam on her first attempt.

MY NAME IS ELENA GOOR BARRON and my dream has always been to help people from different countries and backgrounds. I graduated with a Bachelor of Law LL.B. and B.A. in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy with Expertise in Terrorism & Homeland Security from IDC Herzliya, Israel. During my work in Personal Injury Law in Israel I decided to further my legal education in pursuit of my dream and to practice law internationally.

I felt that becoming an attorney in the U.S. would give me an opportunity to expand my legal career to an international level and to handle complex cross-border legal matters.

When considering my options for qualification, I determined that applying to sit for the New York State Bar Exam was the right path for me.

I did some of my own independent bar exam preparation course research, as well as spoke to my American friends who had taken a U.S. Bar Exam, and learned that BARBRI is widely considered the best bar exam preparation available if you want to pass on the first attempt. I was also impressed with the flexibility of BARBRI study tools provided and the success rate of their students.

WHAT ESPECIALLY CAUGHT MY EYE was the BARBRI International Home Study Program designed specifically for foreign-educated lawyers who want to prepare for a U.S. Bar Exam while maintaining their practice in another country.

Each week, I utilized various tools and resources such as the video lectures, reading assignments, multiple-choice practice questions and essay practice questions. It was apparent that each member of the BARBRI faculty put an enormous amount of thought and time into preparing every lecture.

I also had a direct line of communication with BARBRI, both in Israel and the United States. They were always ready to offer guidance and support. When I arrived in New York for the exam I felt confident, well prepared and passed on my first attempt using the BARBRI International Home Study Program.

First CILEx Qualified Lawyer to Sit the California State Bar Exam

I’m John Dickens and I recently became the first CILEx qualified lawyer to be deemed eligible to sit the California State Bar Exam.

At the time of writing the good people at BARBRI International are helping me towards my goal of being the first CILEx lawyer practising in both the U.K. and U.S.

I am an employment lawyer originally from sunny Yorkshire. The academic and professional route I took to become such was in the form of the traditional LLB three-year law degree, the Legal Practice Course, interspersed with seven years working in my chosen field of employment law as a Litigation Executive for both national and boutique firms.

I decided to undertake the bar in California as it had always been a dream of mine to move to America. While I was happy with the work I was doing in the U.K., I felt strongly that the remuneration was not what it should be. I also believe that a better work/life balance is possible as an Attorney, in addition to increased earning power and the peripheral benefit of swapping rain and cold for sunshine and warmth.

Having recently secured a job offer in Los Angeles contingent on my passing the bar, I am now very excited to progress with my studies and have found BARBRI International to be a most excellent partner in preparing me for the bar. In providing its wealth of knowledge and experience going back nearly fifty years, BARBRI International not only helped me to become the first CILEx lawyer to be eligible to sit the bar but I believe it will be instrumental in my being the first to pass it also.